House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Bloc MP for Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 12% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions November 25th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to lay upon the table a petition from Amnesty International supporters who held a convention in my riding on November 9.

The petition states, and I will read a short paragraph:

We urge the House of Commons of Canada to give paramount importance to the protection of human rights and to the humanitarian concerns about for the life and safety of the Iraqi population. We do not want Canada to engage in a military operation unilaterally decided, contrary to United Nations resolutions, by a superpower, as is currently the case with the United States.

Ingrid Betancourt November 22nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise the awareness of hon. members of this House about a very important humanitarian cause, that of Ingrid Betancourt. Everyone remembers this Colombian woman, who ran in the presidential election of her country and was abducted by the FARC on February 23.

There is nothing that can justify the abduction of civilians. A true peace process cannot develop as long as such practices continue.

We must do everything in our power to bring about the release of Ingrid Betancourt and other civilians held captive by armed groups. A political dialogue must be established as soon as possible to restore the peace the vast majority of Colombians hope for.

In a show of solidarity for the fight that Ingrid Betancourt is leading, I urge everyone to take part in the walk that will be held tomorrow and on the 23rd of each month. Join supporters in Montreal, at the corner of McGill College and Sainte-Catherine, and in Quebec City, in front of the National Assembly building.

Citizenship of Canada Act November 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. It shows that he is quite familiar with the issue. In fact, he was the Bloc critic on this issue for several years.

He referred to a very specific feature of Quebec. We have our own civil code. It is unfortunate that the hon. member for Laval West, who sits on the other side of the House, will not recognize this. She talks about Canada being one country, coast to coast. She does not recognize Quebec's uniqueness, something the member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie does quite well.

Citizenship of Canada Act November 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I admit I have trouble finding any question in the parliamentary secretary's words. I heard several comments instead.

She has made a distinction I accept in connection with independent immigration, but there is still an emphasis being given. That must not be the only thing in the bill. What I was stressing is continuity.

As for the other aspects, she has said I was restricting myself to political aspects. She did not listen to the beginning of my speech when I read the summary of the bill before us and focused on certain words. She has probably not had the opportunity to read the bill, which is not my problem, but I would invite her to read the summary.

As for the rest, it is a matter of how you look at it. She says “Yes, we will treat Quebeckers the same as other Canadians”, but that is precisely one of the problems we face as Quebeckers. We want to be a distinct society. If in fact there were elements of a distinct society and if that concept really meant something, then perhaps many Quebeckers would say OK, but that is not the problem.

Instead of being an annoyance, this has strengthened my conviction that this bill is not very respectful of Quebec society.

Citizenship of Canada Act November 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to take part in the debate on Bill C-18, which deals with Canadian citizenship.

The Bloc Quebecois has always been in favour of a new citizenship act, since the current one dates back to 1977. Twice, the current government attempted to amend this act, first in 1998 with Bill C-63. A year later, in 1999, we had Bill C-16, aimed at modernizing the Citizenship of Canada Act.

The bill before us today, Bill C-18, contains 12 elements that I would like to list by reading the summary. It says, and I quote:

(a) the continued acquisition of citizenship at birth for most persons born in Canada.

The word most means that it will not be the case for everybody.

(b) residence requirements--

I will only make a few comments as I only have 10 minutes, but we agree with this. In the past, the definition was inadequate. We will certainly debate this in committee, but in our view, it is still inadequate although greatly improved.

(c) a new judicial process to revoke the citizenship of a person--

This is a new process. It is a judicial process. It says further:

(d) new authority for the Minister and the Solicitor General of Canada to sign a certificate that commences the proceedings--in which security information may be used--

This is a sure sign we are in the post-September 11 2001 era. The whole aspect of security is being beefed up. On the face of it, we cannot oppose that, but we must be careful, as is the case with other statutes, when trying to deal with people who might be a threat to Canadian security, not to infringe on the rights of other people who have nothing to do with the security of Canada.

Further on it says:

(e) new authority for the Minister to annul the citizenship--

Indeed, in some cases, when we realize that people are a danger for Canadian and Quebec society, we agree. But again, we must be careful. Sometimes, when trying to do something good, we do something bad, no matter how careful we are.

It also stipulates:

(f) new authority for the Governor in Council to refuse to grant citizenship where a person has demonstrated a flagrant and serious disregard for the principles and values underlying a free and democratic society;—

We do not have a problem with that, except that the new authority is granted to the governor in council, meaning the cabinet. It might be an issue of concern to those who promote human rights. We will see how it goes when the bill is scrutinized, but some issues need to be raised.

The summary continues:

(g) new prohibitions and offences with more severe punishment in order to maintain the enactment's integrity;

Nobody can argue with that. It continues:

(h) restricting the transmission of citizenship to persons born abroad of Canadian parents to the first and second generations, with an automatic loss of citizenship at the age of 28 years to those in the second generation who have not resided in Canada;—

Of course, that seems reasonable. Why grant citizenship to someone who has not resided long enough in Canada? There may be a discretionary aspect to this process that needs to be addressed, though. It continues:

(i) lessening the distinctions made between adopted children and children born abroad of Canadian parents for the purpose of the acquisition of citizenship;

There are two categories of children: those who are born abroad and those who are adopted abroad. This is something we may want to discuss, but to which we are not strenuously opposed.

It also says:

(k) a new office of “Citizenship Commissioner”, to replace the former “citizenship judge”, with new functions related to conducting citizenship ceremonies, promoting citizenship and advising the Minister;—

We saw earlier that the government wants to take out some elements of the citizenship examination to bring it to an administrative level. Citizenship judges will now be called citizenship commissioners. There is a purpose for promoting people who used to be called judges to the position of commissioner. The government is thus freeing them from certain duties and is creating another type of duti<y to make it clear to immigrants who become new citizens what they have to do to become good Canadian citizens.

We, in the Bloc Quebecois, as Quebeckers, are saying, “We accept this, but here is a word of caution”. However, we noted that some improvements have been made, based on our past demands. Concerning immigrants who become Canadian citizens, in Quebec at least, there are now some documents coming from Quebec, particularly a letter from the premier. It must be pointed out that a portion of immigrants is chosen by the Quebec government, pursuant to an agreement between the Quebec government and the federal government. The portion chosen by Quebec includes so-called regular immigrants. The other portion, which is chosen by the federal government, includes mostly refugees.

Now, there is a twelfth element I would like to elaborate on. Since two colleagues from the Bloc have talked about this previously, I do not want to repeat what they said. This has to do with modernizing the oath of citizenship. Clause 34 refers us to the schedule. As a matter of fact, this is the only element in the schedule, and I will quote it:

From this day forward, I pledge my loyalty and allegiance to Canada and Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, I promise to respect our country's rights and freedoms, to uphold our democratic values, to faithfully observe our laws and fulfil my duties and obligations as a Canadian citizen.

We should compare this with what was said in the past:

I affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.

Obviously, nobody can be against the observance of the laws and the fulfillment of the duties of the ordinary citizen. What is new here is the word Canada, which has been added. Up to now, the oath used to mention only the Queen. But some Canadian citizens have been wondering about that. Even the Minister of Finance has asked if we should put that back in, but we can see the word successors has been left out. Maybe the finance minister will heave a sigh of relief.

The word I am concerned with right now is Canada. Why? I wonder why the word “Canada” is being used. Ever since the 1995 referendum, the government has had a policy of putting the word Canada everywhere it can. The names of a number of departments have been changed. For example, we now have the Canada Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec. The word Canada has been inserted. We also have VIA Rail Canada and Canada Post.

Many names have been changed in the same way. The Canadian government has advertised about health for example, using the word Canada systematically.

This is all fine and good, but there is a renewed emphasis by the constant repetition of that word. It should also be pointed out that a newcomer who wants to become a Canadian citizen is not treated the same way as other Canadians. People who were born in Canada, in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada, do not have to take the oath of allegiance to Canada.

Time flies, and I hope I get the opportunity to answer questions so I can complete my remarks.

Public Safety Act, 2002 November 5th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I too wish to congratulate my colleague from Saint-Jean on his speech by emphasizing one aspect of his work—he was not the only member of the Bloc Quebecois to work on this issue—and that is the whole issue of controlled access military zones. As we know, this bill reflects a certain withdrawal, or perhaps a no uncertain withdrawal, in this respect. I commend him and all the other members who fought on this issue. It shows that it can pay off to debate some bills vigorously.

I also wish to acknowledge in passing the work done prior to September 11, particularly the fight of the hon. member for Mercier against Bill C-54 while she was the industry critic. The government also withdrew the bill on human resources development concerning the unemployed.

Well before September 11, the government wanted to get its hands on as much personal information as possible. The Bloc Quebecois fought to prevent that from happening. We were only partly successful, but this was one of our concerns.

I would like to know if my colleague thinks that, in spite of the Prime Minister's fine words at the time, the events of September 11 gave the federal government an opportunity to use the situation to do more directly what it did not dare do before September 11, 2001?

Public Safety Act, 2002 November 5th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech of the former leader of the Canadian Alliance on this bill. I was under the impression that his comments had more to do with foreign policy and support for the United States, but I want to ask him about the legislation before us.

Does the hon. member not think, like the privacy commissioner, who is an independent observer, that there are many violations of individual rights, including in the area of personal information? Everyone agrees in the case of a person who is wanted and who belongs to a terrorist group. However, the government wants to broaden the scope of these powers, so that ordinary citizens will be subjected to excessive information gathering. At least, this is what the privacy commissioner says.

I would like to hear what the hon. member has to say about this specific aspect of the bill and about the privacy commissioner's opinion.

Public Safety Act, 2002 November 5th, 2002

Madam Speaker, the bill before us somehow replaces Bill C-55 or is its successor. When the previous bill was introduced, the then privacy commissioner appeared before the Human Rights Commission in Geneva and expressed concerns regarding several provisions of the bill. Now the bill before us today is being criticized by the new privacy commissioner.

I would like to put the following question to the hon. member. He believes the changes made to the previous legislation are minimal and that its flaws are not being addressed. He believes the government did not take them into account and he is relying on parliamentarians to ensure that those changes are made with regard, of course, to the whole question everybody agrees on, namely the war on terrorism. The bill is off target. This is mainly what we have against it. It is too broad and as a result it encroaches on everybody's privacy.

I would like to know what the member thinks of the criticism made by the privacy commissioner.

Public Safety Act, 2002 November 5th, 2002

Madam Speaker, in the same vein, I would like to ask my colleague a question regarding the opinion expressed by the Privacy Commissioner. Not only did he express an opinion, but he made a deliberate effort to make members of this House aware of his opposition to certain aspects of this legislation.

I would like the member to state his position with regard to this negative opinion expressed by the privacy commissioner.

Supply November 4th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on the speech made by my colleague, who is right in many respects, when he says that much of the equipment is obsolete.

The motion moved by the Progressive Conservative Party asks that defence spending be increased, but we in the Bloc Quebecois believe that it does not say clearly enough where and in what areas the budget needs strengthening. For this reason, we would have preferred that some sort of a plan of action be established, or specific directions.

For example, there have been changes at NATO. New countries have joined. And increasingly, groups within the European Council have spoken about asking contributing countries to specialize in one sector or another. This means that the situation has also changed. We are talking part in more peacekeeping missions.

I will close with this question. Would my colleague agree to have a debate, in committee or here in the House, on the direction of defence policy, a new defence policy adjusted to today's reality, rather than leaving it up to the current Minister of National Defence? As far as I am concerned, I do not have much faith in his judgment to determine the needs when it comes to matters of defence.

The member for Saint John, like me, believes that we should replace some of the equipment for transporting troops, for peacekeeping missions, for example, particularly the ships. Right now, the situation is disgraceful; that is a fact. Our troops are being transported by the Americans, or by private companies that at one point did not deliver the needed equipment because of payment problems.

Once again, I ask the member this question: would he agree to hold a debate on Canada's new defence policy, adjusted to today's reality, one that would have more support than if it were simply left to the judgment of the current Minister of National Defence?